JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a matter of minutes, a Jacksonville man who has had three amputations was robbed not only of his spare wheelchair but also of the one thing that has brought him joy.
Jerome Videen said woodworking makes him feel that his life still has value and helps him make a living. Over the years, he has collected dozens of top-quality power tools, such as saws, grinders, sanders and compressors. But in January, the tools were stolen out of his garage at the Enclave apartments on Atlantic Boulevard.
“That’s really what my life has been about, besides being sick, has been my woodworking,” Videen said. “That was pretty much everything to me, honestly. That was my means of finding value to life again."
Videen just started up his woodworking again. For the last four years, he hasn’t been well enough to work after losing both his legs and one of his hands to a rare disease.
“It’s really disheartening because I’ve spent the last three years really just trying to stay alive, and the last six months have really stabilized. And I’ve been trying to create a business and income again for myself with those tools so that, basically, I can get the health care that I need to keep searching for," Videen said.
He needs a kidney transplant and is now trying to start up a YouTube page of his woodworking and eventually sell his work to pay medical bills.
“It’s extremely beneficial to me to just know that I can still create things and things that other people enjoy and can use in their life," Videen said.
His wife, Tanya, said she saw a light come back into her husband's eyes when he started his woodworking again.
“I saw a drastic change in him when he was able to get back to doing something in life besides health care,” she said.
One morning in January, Videen said, he entered his garage and noticed a mess on the floor. He said he then realized his spare wheelchair stored in the garage and his tools were missing. He said he thinks the person responsible used the wheelchair as a cart to carry away the tools.
“You can see that they took the wheelchair and the barrel and filled it with ... anything that was worth money, tools that I’d been holding onto and used that to roll away with them -- used my chair to take them,” Videen said.
Videen added that he believes the thief knew how frequently he visited his garage and knew how many nice items were inside of it.
The Videens are now working with insurance to reimburse as much as they can but said it has been difficult because insurance wants the receipts to prove it. Videen told News4Jax he got most of the tools years ago when he worked in construction and no longer has the receipts.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help replace the tools. The couple also filed a police report through the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating.
Videen posts his work to his Instagram. Those interested in keeping up with his journey can follow @one.handi.maker.